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Cliff Lee Is Back! Deal Worth Upwards of $120M, Possibly $135M

Almost 800 comments after midnight east coast time calls for an overflow thread. The latest from the twitterverse at 4am east coast time (why in the world am I awake?!) is that the deal is worth $107.5M over 5 years, with Lee getting a $12.5M buyout after that fifth year or a $27.5M vesting option. The total value of the deal could be $135M over 6 years.

That's a lot of years and a lot of dough, but ponder this, as Jayson Stark put it: the Phillies will now have the MLB leader in WAR (Lee), the NL WHIP leader (Oswalt), the NL Cy Young (Halladay), and the best lefty ERA in the second half of 2010 (Hamels).

Other than on the fifth day, will they even need a bullpen other than Lidge and Madson? And on that fifth day, maybe they should just let their bullpen get its work in?

Final thought: at the end of September, I wrote about how the Phillies have fundamentally changed as a franchise in a way that's hard for us long-timers to truly comprehend. Well, if this past season wasn't proof enough of that change for you, the cognitive dissonance from hearing 1) that the best free agent pitcher on the market 2) came to Philadelphia 3) over the Yankees while 4) leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table is just staggering.

This is a radically different franchise than it was five years ago. It's fun to be along for the ride.